Let me introduce myself: my name is Miguel Palacio, and I'm a member of the "Asociación Española de Esgrima Antigua", a spanish group that works, among others, with the longsword, and the one which mr. Carlos Negredo, the videos' author, belongs to. Since my written english is (barely, I should say) better than his, I have taken the task of explaining his, and our school's, approach to longsword fencing in this forum, as it seems that some amount of curiosity about it has been raised around here.
As mr. Smith has already noticed, our current development stage regarding longsword fencing is part of an ongoing evolution in our group, and the turning point of it was when we began to introduce biomechanical and geometrical analysis to understand, and then to optimize, what we do sword in hand. That change came around when we realized, on one hand, that a complete
practical longsword fencing system cannot be reconstructed from the sources (that is, all interpretations of nowadays are, by definition, modern systems, no matter how much they try to adhere to the letter -or to the spirit- of the sources); and on the other, when we understood that fencing, no matter the sword typology, can be analized in biomechanical and geometrical
terms. From then on, we began to focus more in what we do, how we do it and why we do it and then, why and how can be done better, and less in doing what the treatise X says. Of course, treatises haven't been completely disregarded, but they are now somewhat of a secondary source, some kind of "canned food for thought", if you know what I mean: in other words, period sources are still an input in our work, but they have ceased to be the main input. Obviusly, we do not claim to do "german longsword fencing", "Vadi's longsword" or whatever; what we do is longsword fencing. Period.
Of course, in a group as big as ours ( some sixteen salles in Spain -Carlos is the head of the salle at Saragossa-, and more than 300 members) there are slight variances on the approach: for instance, Carlos is more fond on the Liechtenauer tradition than I, but even he works with it like some kind of an afterthought ("We do this like that because that, so it seems that that's what Döbringer meant when he wrote that and that and that") and also, I think, to make his explanations more palatable to
the outsiders, that may see all the underlying stuff of lines, angles, hip alignment, weight displacements, steping, etc. rather cumbersome and hard to understand as the terminology and principles and definitions we handle are not known to them.
In the specific case of the long, wide-distance strikes, we have found that they are rather easy to defeat once one get used to think and to work in terms of relative alignment instead of in terms of mere distance: for example, a zornhau from right or high von tag is easy to manage as long as you keep your rigth shoulder in line with that of the opponent(*): a matter of half a feet defeats the zornhau even before it starts. In general terms, wide distance gives you time to react, the opponent's sword position gives you the strike or strikes he can perfom efficienty in the next instant, and the footwork alows you to manipulate the relative alignment to your advantage. That might be seen at odds with the sources, which seems to convey the idea of the "meisterhau" as a "fight-ender", but if one reads Döbringer carefuly, he seems to work with the notion of a succesful meisterhau that doesn't hit the opponent, that in turn leads me to think that a meisterhau might be a risky way to try to strike a skilled opponent, but may be safer if taken (and executed) as a way to step into binding distance.
And we DO bind a lot, yes ... out of fear of an antagonist blade not under our control. We try to feel "afraid" of it, and try not to strike if we don't feel safe enough. That gives that "unaggressive" feeling on the bouts, but, as some around here have already seen, there's a lot of intended, antagonistic minute work going on continuosly on them. A video has been put foward in this
thread as an example of what a real fight may look like, and both Axel and Anders are indeed aggresive and even violent... but get too many doubles, at least for my frail skin, whose double hit allowance level is nil: they got a winner (a rigthful winner, indeed) for a tournament, but two corpses for a combat. I don't mean to say that we are right: for example, I think that we tend to associate safety to binding too closely, even mistaking one for the other, but it doesn't bothers me too much, because I believe that, if we keep working along this line, we'll learn sooner or later how to keep control of the opponent's blade without
being continuosly binded.
By the way, regading our exposure as a group, our members had attended to (and held workshops in) some editions of the DreyEvent at Viena, to the international FISAS meeting at Italy, to the BFSH and SWASH meetings at U.K. and to the HEMAC Dijon meeting at France. That is, we have our fair share of it this side of the big pond. But I'm afraid that the named pond is a little too big for a weekend escapade, and that our closer ties with that side, Puck and Mary Curtis excepted, lay to the south of the Rio Grande, so it seems no big wonder that nobody in this forum has crossed swords with us.
And a final note about our swords: they were custom-made in order to get a longsword blunt that was safe to strike with against a target with mid-range protections (middle-to-heavy padded chest and arms jacket-gambax, rigid elbow and knee protections, heavily padded gloves). They are on the lower end of the historical pieces' range in terms of weight (perhaps even a little bit below it: the whole sword weigths up to three pounds), and they were engineered in order to get a safe thrusting piece without having a blobling or breakable blade. The guy who made them succeeded in meeting all the requirements, but nearly got ruined when marketing them outside our group: the guys of the weighted shinais and the tee-shirts found them too heavy and unsafe; the ones in full metal jackets and blunts found it too light and bendable; all of them did not like that they remained bended when bent and needed to be straighten up (although it was exactly that that allowed to make pretty hard thrusts without the risk of a dangerous blade breakage); and few people understood that it was designed as a optimized weapon for sparring only, and not as an everyday, allaround, one-size-fits-all tool. Add to the sum the fact that its narrow design margins made it unsuited for cheap outsourced manufacting without quality control (a.k.a. chinese steel workshops), but it can not be made other way if the price has to be kept low as it has to be the "second" sword of its users, and you'll understand why they have ceased to be avaliable. But they aided us to develop our longsword fencing to its current level, because they allowed to deliver safely those heavy, long-range cuts that some missed in our current videos, and to work against them in trial-and-error fashion not encumbered with heavy protections without risking a serious injury when the trial became one with tastes of failure.
(*) With that I mean that the shortest line on the horizontal plane that goes from his closest body point to you to your closest body point to him must go from your right shoulder to his right shoulder.